All About This Year’s Continuing Community Change Projects!

We're celebrating the continuation of 20 Community Change Projects founded by previous Bezos Scholars

By Adriana Jackson

11 minutes

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This year, we are celebrating the continuation of 20 Community Change Projects founded by previous Bezos Scholars. They are fresh and creative approaches to a pressing community need. As projects continue, new student leaders are tasked with building a team, iterating on project design and implementing engaging and interactive activities. We are excited to share this year’s projects and celebrate the student leaders, their teams, and larger supportive communities.

Bright Futures - Color

Bright Futures for All!

Project Theme: College and career access and readiness
Years in Existence: 2
Target Audience and Location: High school students at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, PA.
Mission: To amplify college and career readiness opportunities through interactive, online resources.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Nhaomi Lartey and educator Scholar Ava Alexander wanted to provide access to resources and opportunities as students prepared for post-secondary education after high school. This year’s student leader, Gianna Gamble, is improving their website, a hub for scholarships, Penn Wood-specific resources, and college and career readiness information. Gianna is most proud that “Bright Futures for All is dedicating resources to helping students plan their further success after high school and that students have a central location to get information.”

Conquer Talk

Conquer Talk: Social Awareness

Project Theme: Sense of belonging and social awareness
Years in Existence: 2
Target Audience and Location: Los Altos High School students in Hacienda Heights, CA.
Mission: Through structured workshops, Conquer Talk fosters a safe environment for students to spark meaningful discussions and gather resources while learning about mental health.

Project Description: Founding Student Scholar Eric Ye and educator Scholar Jessica Lujan designed Conquer Talk to create spaces for students to have meaningful conversations. After surveying students, this year’s team, led by Sharlene Orozco, decided that this year’s theme would be social awareness with a focus on how students can use their voices to impact local, national, and global issues. Sharlene is most proud of “the work that we’ve accomplished to bring guests and local organizations to our day of workshops.”

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Civics Delivered

Project Theme: Civic engagement
Years in Existence: 3
Target Audience and Location: 8-12th grade students in the San Fernando Valley.
Mission: To inspire action among teens and increase awareness of mental health challenges.

Project Description: Founding student Scholar Sarah Tran and educator Scholar Cindy Quintana designed Civics Delivered to equip youth with skills to enact change in their community. This year, student leader Olivia Zhao is partnering with Once Upon a Teen to build a digital toolkit that provides resources for teens to advocate for mental health resources in their communities. Olivia is proud of Civics Delivered and this year’s focus on mental health, noting, “This project is crucial to our community because it addresses the urgent need for teen mental health support, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

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Colton High School Wellness Fair

Project Theme: Mental health and wellness
Years in Existence: 4
Target Audience and Location: Colton High School and Colton Joint Unified School District Communities in Colton, CA.
Mission: Colton High School Wellness Fair eliminates the stigma attached to mental health by empowering students to advocate for their mental health needs.

Project Description: Founding Scholars Ernest Mateo Cisneros and educator Jorge Alverez wanted to prioritize mental health and wellness in the Colton community. This led to designing a Wellness Club and Fair that brings experts and activities to the Colton community. This year’s student leader, Sabrina Robles, is focused on growing the project’s impact by increasing the number of community partners and reaching each of the school’s 1727 students. Sabrina is most proud that “this year’s Wellness Club made its first appearance in our homecoming parade where we were able to give out mental health handouts and promote awareness of resources in our community.”

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C-House Allies

Project Theme: Mental health
Years in Existence: 4
Target Audience and Location: The Central High School in Memphis, TN, school community.
Mission: C-House Allies builds healthy relationships between students, administration and faculty through student-led activities focused on building a nurturing community.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Amal Altareb and educator Scholar Mary McIntosh set out to bring people together over a night of activities and facilitated conversation intended to discuss the topic of mental health. As Kamryn Broy, this year’s student leader, takes the project into its fourth year, they are focused on hosting Story Exchanges, where students plan to share personal stories that focus on building an understanding of various cultures and experiences to contribute to an inclusive school community. Kamryn is most excited about “the opportunity to bring activities and important conversations to all students of Central High School, including our international and functional skills program students."

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Dewasters of Seaside

Project Theme: Environmental justice
Years in Existence: 2
Target Audience and Location: Seaside residents in Seaside, CA.
Mission: Through education about how garbage in landfills contributes to climate change, we inspire our community to change their attitude and habits so they actively reduce their waste.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Jackie Ballesteros Martinez and her educator Scholar Sarah Lester Guzmán designed their project to eliminate waste and support their community in sustainability practices. This year, student leader Remi Morgan is expanding the project’s reach by including Monterey High School and Seaside High School students. The team continues to partner with Communities for Sustainable Monterey County. It has hosted school-wide trash clean-ups where they share information about the importance of sustainability practices while living in a coastal city. Remi is most proud of “being able to expand the project and use our budget to host beach clean ups as well as campus-wide clean ups in our community.”

Greater Good In Action

Greater Good in Action (formerly Period.)

Project Theme: Period poverty and mental health
Years in Existence: 2
Target Audience and Location: Framingham High School community in Framingham, MA.
Mission: Greater Good in Action will provide the Framingham community with accessible resources while offering education and advocacy through campaigns, fundraisers and community events.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Amelia Coates and educator Scholar Diane Burke focused their project on period poverty, the challenge menstruating people face while trying to afford menstrual products. The project, formerly Period., aimed to supply free and accessible menstruation supplies within the school district. This year’s student leader, Anaya Ray, has been a part of the project since its inception and plans to expand its reach and focus by transforming it into Greater Good in Action, a project focused on giving back to the Framingham community. In addition to providing free menstrual products, the team also hosts donation drives for local food pantries, works on advocacy campaigns related to breast cancer awareness, and other events that prioritize the health of the Framingham community. Reflecting on the last two years, Anaya is proud of “how many club members we’ve gained; after the seniors graduated last year, we only had a few people on our team. After gaining attention from students throughout our fundraisers and events, we’ve grown to nineteen student leaders.”

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Kats Together

Project Theme: Disability awareness
Years in Existence: 5
Target Audience and Location: Kokomo High School Community in Kokomo, IN.
Mission: To facilitate opportunities for collaboration between students with disabilities and the greater student body so all students are valued and recognized for their unique abilities.

Project Description: Founded in 2019 by Scholars Brayden York and educator Leslie Lewis, Kats Together was designed to bring disability awareness to high school students at Kokomo High School. This year’s team, led by Lizzie Hunter, continues to host lunches and interactive activities for students with disabilities to engage with students throughout the school. In addition to regularly scheduled activities, the team is working to host a local fashion show with members of Kats Together to raise awareness around accessible clothing for events like prom and graduation. Lizzie is most proud of “our team of students coming up with the idea to host a fashion show that highlights the importance and need for different types of clothing in formal clothing. We’re also excited to partner with local businesses to bring this vision to life and highlight the mission of KATS Together.”

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Lamar Thrift

Project Theme: Climate change and waste reduction
Years in Existence: 2
Target Audience and Location: Lamar High School community in Houston, TX.
Mission: Lamar Thrift engages the student body by hosting ongoing drives in our community to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste.

Project Description: Founding Scholars Franklin Wu and educator Scholar Sally Woolweaver created a project focused on reducing the impacts of climate change by hosting donation drives that mitigate waste going into landfills. Using their school’s National Honor Society members, the team hosts multiple donation drives where they share information about how climate change affects Houston communities. As the Houston community continues to feel the effects of climate change, such as frequent flooding, drought and extreme heat waves, this year’s student leader, Matthew Wu, is focused on increasing community involvement by expanding their outreach efforts to more Lamar High students and community members. Matthew is proud of “how our project has expanded the opportunities for students and community members to get involved, learn about climate change, and build connections based on our desire for change in the Lamar community.”

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Lead, Read, Achieve!

Project Theme: Literacy
Years in Existence: 2
Target Audience and Location: 4th-grade students at Richfield Elementary School in Richfield, NC.
Mission: Lead, Read, and Achieve! pairs high school mentors and elementary school students, encouraging them to build their literacy skills in a supportive and engaging environment.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Abigail Wahl and educator Scholar Tina Carter were passionate about youth literacy and wanted to combat the declining literacy rates in the Richfield community. Lead, Read, Achieve! brings high school students into the elementary school classroom and engages students in fun reading activities and story circles. Continued by this year’s student leader, Ameno Morgan, the group is focused on pairing high school students with students in the 4th grade. Recognizing that students were interested in certain genres of books, the team has been focused on purchasing multiple sets of popular book series to keep students engaged in reading. As Ameno reflected on his second year supporting Lead, Read, Achieve!, he is most proud of “the courage and compassion the students are starting to show. They are beginning to take risks and leaps into the books they are reading and are more willing to challenge themselves with chapter books.”

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Let’s TALC (Teach, Access, Learn, Choice)

Project Theme: Opioid and drug addiction prevention
Years in Existence: 2
Target Audience and Location: Governor Thomas Johnson High School students in Frederick, MD.
Mission: Let’s TALC offers teens opportunities for healthy stress relief and to practice informed decision-making about drugs and opioids in a supportive community.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Diya Jha and educator Scholar Paige Spangler created Let’s TALC to raise awareness and prevent opioid and drug addiction while creating a welcoming environment devoid of scare tactics. Let’s TALC hosts community events with local businesses where students can learn about the effects of drug addiction, learn from one another, share personal experiences, and provide positive coping strategies. This year’s leader, Daniella Hayford, is increasing the number of events Let’s TALC hosts and is planning to bring back their successful dog therapy event where students can enjoy time with dogs and learn about the impact of drug and opioid addiction. Daniella is proud of “this year’s team increasing the number of attendees at our events – both students and teachers.”

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Let’s Connect! Rancho

Project Theme: Community connection and sense of belonging
Years in Existence: 3
Target Audience and Location: Rancho High School students and teachers.
Mission: To foster a sense of comfort between students and teachers by providing fun, cost-free, and community-building-focused opportunities.

Project Description: In 2022, founding Scholar Runzhi Hu and educator Scholar Susan Potts wanted to increase positive interactions among students and teachers at Rancho High School. Their project, Let’s Connect! Rancho combatted the challenges of remote learning by building connections through school activities, including a Connection Cafe for more than 160 participants. As the school continues navigating the pandemic’s social impact on students, Let’s Connect! Rancho is focused on providing inclusive and fun activities for students and teachers to come together. This year’s largest event will be a school-wide kickball tournament where students and teachers will socialize, enjoy treats, and build relationships with one another outside of the classroom. This year’s student leader, Ekemini Okon, is proud of “thinking about the students that haven’t been able to participate in one of our events and taking their feedback to create a fun event we can all look forward to this spring.”

Multicultural Club

Multicultural Club

Project Theme: Cultural awareness and sense of belonging
Years in Existence: 3
Target Audience and location: 9-12th grade students at Inlet Grove Community High School.
Mission: To provide a safe and nurturing space where students can learn about each other’s cultures by celebrating their similarities and embracing their differences through fun activities and engaging discussions.

Project Description: Driven by their immigrant experiences, founding Scholar Gabriel Gerig and educator Scholar Francisco Lopez Ortiz dreamt of building an inclusive community for English Language Learners. Multicultural Club seeks to make students feel more comfortable expressing their culture and sharing the experiences that come with it. Through weekly events, lunch meet-ups, and field trips, the team hopes that the Multicultural Club will be the starting point for a conversation around identity and culture, culminating in celebrating the rich diversity within Inlet Grove Community High School. This year’s leader, Adrianna Lizana, and her project team want students to meet new students and get to know one another on a level that isn’t always possible in the classroom. Adrianna is proud of “the way my team’s project has been able to flourish. We have doubled our attendance numbers while staying committed to our mission.”

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NorCal Science & Technology Festival

Project Theme: Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) access
Years in Existence: 9
Target Audience and Location: Students within the Lodi Unified School District in Lodi, CA.
Mission: To stimulate student/educator and community engagement in STEAMS by encouraging sustainability and celebrating the fun in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Project Description: Founding Bezos Scholar Julie Fukunaga and educator Scholar Sandi Starr were inspired by their passion for STEM and developed a project to increase STEAM opportunities for students. In its 9th year, the NorCal Science and Technology Festival plans to focus on improving students’ beliefs that they can succeed in a STEAM field. To do so, they are partnering with multiple organizations that will present engaging and fun activities during their daylong festival. This year’s student leader, Taylor Smith, is proud of “how our community has come together to support an important event; we have support from our local waste management and utility companies, various school PTSAs, and non-profits that are all excited to support increasing access to STEAM fields.”

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Noteworthy Music Club and Festival

Years in Existence: 13
Project Theme: Elementary music education
Target Audience and Location: Patrick Henry High School Community and Roanoke County Public School students in Roanoke, VA.
Mission: To connect students and teachers who are passionate about music and music education to raise money to sponsor music education and buy new instruments for elementary school students in our community.

Project Description: Founded in 2011 by Scholars Locher Grove and educator Nicole Doherty, Noteworthy Music Festival celebrates the community’s love of music while increasing access to instruments and music education for local elementary school students. Led by this year’s student leader, Molly McConnell, this year’s team is supporting Monterey Elementary School, a school of 477 students located in the Northeastern part of Roanoke. The project team has hosted multiple fundraising events and hopes to raise over $2,500 for instruments by the time they host their annual music festival in May. Molly is proud that “the club has over 35 members, and we’ve held a successful fundraiser every month of the school year.”


Old Town Equity Committee

Project Theme: Sense of belonging
Years in Existence: 3
Target Audience and Location: Old Town High School students in Old Town, ME.
Mission: To provide the Old Town school community with safe spaces, education, and resources that increase equity for all.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Avery Ell and educator Scholar Natalie Davis created the Old Town Equity Committee to build a more inclusive environment within their community. Over the years, the equity committee has worked to build more inclusive practices related to gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as provide free products to menstruating people. Led by this year’s student leader, Caleb Thacker, the Old Town Equity Committee has focused on continuing to offer free products to the Old Town student body, including menstruation products and cold and flu kits. Caleb is proud of “organizing our largest tissue drive this year; we hope to plan another drive later this year.”

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POP Festival

Project Theme: Post-Secondary Exploration
Years in Existence: 3
Target Audience and Location: 9-12th grade students at Brown County High School.
Mission: To equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to lead a purpose-driven life by connecting them to post-secondary educational institutions and opportunities.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Josephine Fields and educator Scholar Kristi Billings created The Pursuing Our Purpose (POP) Festival for 9-12 graders to explore their purpose through academic and career pursuits. During the daylong POP Festival, a series of workshops are presented by community members, college educators, and local businesses and students are encouraged to ask questions, make connections, and explore their purpose. This year, led by student leaders Shauna Custard and Taylor Lucas, the POP Festival is focused on bringing more higher education professionals to share the opportunity and impact of pursuing a degree after high school. When asked what they were most proud of, Shauna and Taylor shared, “We are most proud of our first two festivals’ impact on our school. The feedback we received let us know that the festival has a positive impact on our students and that they found joy in engaging with experts across various fields.”

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STEM Connect

Project Theme: STEM inclusion and support
Years in Existence: 2
Target Audience and Location: STEM Academy students at Harrisonburg High School in Harrisonburg, VA.
Mission: Reignite STEM academic confidence through peer mentorship and exposure to real-world STEM careers and applications.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Anish Aradhey and educator Scholar Danae Delozier, both passionate about STEM, discovered a need for building more inclusive practices in STEM courses at their high school. STEM Connect is focused on hosting sessions outside of class that hone study skills, making connections across underclassmen and upperclassmen and providing tutoring and study support. This year’s team, led by student leaders Giovanni Sanchez-Garcia and Addison Mason, is focused on increasing the number of mentoring relationships and bringing tailored workshops to mentor-mentee pairs during afterschool programming. Addison and Giovanni are proud of “our efforts to expand our reach to more students and think about what students need to be included in STEM courses at our high school.”

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Project Theme: Sense of belonging
Years in Existence: 2
Target Audience and Location: Union High School in Camas, WA School community.
Mission: Unite! increases student engagement in school clubs, organizations and activities by hosting club match events and a club showcase.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Jean Lin and educator Scholar Erik Wiitanen set out to increase student engagement in extracurricular activities at Union High School by designing a club matching event where students fill out a survey that pairs them with clubs they might be interested in. This year’s Unite! team, led by student leaders Marley Johnsen and Joanne Lin, is focused on engaging incoming first-year students by having club members attend new student orientations to connect students before enrolling in courses. They aim to connect each incoming first-year student with a student club to increase a sense of belonging and contribute positively to student academics. Marley and Joanne are proud of “the very successful club showcase where groups were able to perform a skit that represented their club and what it’s like to be a part of it.”

Student Wellness Committee

Student Wellness Coalition

Project Theme: Mental health and wellness, sense of belonging
Years in Existence: 3
Target Audience and Location: 9-12th graders at Hightower High School in Missouri City, TX.
Mission: Provide resources that will assist students with creating a healthy lifestyle that includes physical, mental, and nutritional wellness, in addition to being a well-rounded leader in our community.

Project Description: Inspired by personal experiences navigating mental health, founding Scholars Isabel Ohakamma and Dr. John Ramon created the Student Wellness Coalition to host activities focused on self-care, mental hygiene, and ways to practice stress relief. In its third year, now known as the Student Wellness Committee, the project aims to host monthly activities, including winter socials, mindfulness days, and member meeting days where high school students take a break from their academics and engage in dialogue, learn new skills, and build relationships around the topic of mental health. The student leaders, headed by Isabella Orlaska, are proud of “witnessing the transformative power of paws and tail wags, an activity where the team brought furry friends to build connections across peers. We saw teachers, students, and staff members melt away stress and engage with one another in a new light.”

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South Texas Ideas Festival (STXi)

Years in Existence: 8
Project Theme: Education and civic engagement
Target Audience and Location: Students and families in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in South Texas hosted by students from the Idea Quest College Preparatory School in Edinburg, TX.
Mission: To create a platform by and for young adults to engage them in an actionable dialogue about culture, community and identity.

Project Description: Founding Scholar Michael Mireles and educator Scholar Marcos Silva designed STXi to inspire young citizens to celebrate their identity, culture and identity through an annual festival filled with community leaders and speakers from the Rio Grande Valley. In its 8th year, led by a team of student leaders, STXi is focused on organizing an in-person youth conference where students engage with community leaders, participate in interactive networking and educational opportunities, and leave with a renewed sense of purpose and passion for being from the Rio Grande Valley. This year’s STXi co-leaders, Hannah Cruz and Tristan Torres, are proud of “our ability to fortify and maintain our partnerships with our sponsors and community organizations so that the return of investment towards youth is present in our work.”

We are proud of all these student leaders, the team and community members they have engaged and the projects they have carried forward and evolved to positively impact each of their communities! Every Scholar-founded project is eligible to apply for continued funding from the Bezos Family Foundation. Learn more about Community Change Projects.